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If this is what we aspire to have, a child centered pedagogy, our focus is then on interactions, sensitive Interactions. Encouraging every child’s needs, interests, opinions and contributions to be valued and accepted and nurtured.
We should set up flexible and organic experiences that capture our children’s attention, that provoke their thinking and invite them to develop and learn where they are at. Our experiences should have familiarity but also be enriched. Add some aromas to your sand, place bars of soap in the water so they go all sludgy and slimy and the children can make the dinosaurs create footprints or use cars to have tyre tracks appear. Don’t bore them with the same old same old!

Pic: Tom Finnie (19.7.2019)
Alice Sharp working with staff and children at Indigo Childcare, Dunagoil Road, Glasgow.

Our wonderful array of experiences should be provided to give breadth and depth of thinking, offer choice and decisions to be made, problems to be solved or risks to be taken in a variety of spaces and places.
Play that enriches our children’s connections to each other allows us to observe, capture, interpret, and document their development and thoughts. Listen and watch for their responses, how they use their actions, control their emotions and express themselves in sharing words.

Pic: Tom Finnie (28.3.2018)
Alice Sharp, Managing Director of Experiential Play, with children at the Sighthill Nursery, Fountainwell Drive, in Glasgow.

We all know that the best play, the play where children just wallow in it, is mostly about their responses, them shaping and leading each other and manipulating the resources without any interference from us. However, balance and blending with responsive and intentional plans to facilitate, scaffold, enable and inspire is our responsibility too.

Pic: Tom Finnie (28.3.2018)
Alice Sharp, Managing Director of Experiential Play, with children at the Sighthill Nursery, Fountainwell Drive, in Glasgow.

Sit back a while and watch, listen and hear your children. Are they connected to each other? Are they listening to their friends, allowing all the voices to be heard? Do they encourage one another, share, take turns? Do they extend and negotiate? Are they having fun? Do you hear laughter? Are they up to nonsense and mischief? Never forget that’s the job of every child, to be mischief makers, to push boundaries and become themselves.
Don’t forget you can share your ideas with us on instagram or share your photos on our facebook!
Shades, tones, brightness, saturation, there are so many aspects to every colour we see! Think about how many colours we see in a day and the amazing names we can give them all… turquoise, chartreuse, ochre, olive, fuchsia, what wonderful language. The same goes for all of the textures we encounter… bushy, downy, fine, coarse, fluffy, silky, so much variety.

What does our curiosity teach us?

Let’s take the colour purple as an example, but you could use any colour you like. When asked, what do you think when you see purple or hear the world purple, people often say royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and ambition. It also represents meanings of wealth, extravagance, dignity, wisdom, and magic. I asked two friends and they said “opulence” and “restaurants”, it’s a joy we all think differently!

I’ve picked the simplest of ideas to consider how much learning and thinking can be stimulated by exploring a tiny part of our planet. Just one colour, which happens to be a favourite of mine.
As children explore items, they will be challenged to identify them, describe them, consider where they came from, can be found or in fact what they are. Some of the items will be familiar, others a puzzle to be solved. As they begin to experiment with the materials, colours and textures, their personal ideas will be shaped by the breadth and depth of their thinking and engagement.

How to encourage curiosity in our environments…

Stand back and watch, observe with your eyes and ears and see what learning appears. Some things to consider are:
What are the challenges the children come up against and how they deal with them?
Sharing, helping, supporting, extending each other’s ideas, is this demonstrated?
What enjoyment are the children having with the various items?
Are some items more popular, interesting?
Are the children using the items in an interesting way?

Remember you can step into the play. Make sure your stepping in makes the experience better in some way. To extend a thought, answer a question, support the play. Avoid asking questions unless you know it will allow the children to progress their experimentation. Consider the relevance of the items, are the children familiar with them? Are you introducing the possibility of new knowledge and understanding being gained? Encourage their curiosity and the learning is endless!

A wee activity idea…Texture art

Create a large gathered collection of all things purple. Think of all the objects and textures you can collect that share the same colour:
Paint, Liquid watercolour, shampoo, hair conditioner, bubble bath, diluting juice, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, plums.
Wool, threads, strings, tapes, fabric, swatches, sweetie wrappers, cellophane, tissue papers, ribbons.
And all the textures these materials have:
Bushy, coarse, downy, fine, fluffy, frizzy, silky, sleek, soft, springy, wiry, wispy, bouncy, glossy, lumpy, thick.
This is not about colour however focusing on coloured objects (any colour) captures attention, interest and is just the catalyst for engagement. You can leave the rest to the children… Stand back and watch, observe with your eyes and ears and see what learning happens. Their curiosity will no doubt lead to amazing creations and conversations!
Don’t forget you can share your ideas with us on instagram or share your photos on our facebook!
October 14, 2020

Reading with your children

Why reading is so important

The number of different words a baby hears each day is the single  most important predictor of later intelligence, school success, and social ability, so the science suggests. So we can say for sure that reading counts!
If we want happy successful little humans. read to them, surround them with wonderful words about rushing rivers and frolicking faeries or magnificent machines and slitheringslimy, stinky serpents! 
Our children learn best when the books we surround them with create an environment that is supportiveproductive, and provocative.  
Children engage more when we offer them access to books that are exciting and intriguing, when the stories and characters championed in the books promote independence, interdependence, and self-motivation.

Building the foundations

 Although I enjoy reading books as soon as a baby is with us, I always give new babies books, it’s important to recognise that if our children are to become readers there are foundation stones that need to be put in place. 
 “Listening: the process of receiving, constructing meaning from and responding to spoken and/or non-verbal messages.” International Listening Association 
There are four foundation stones that need to be laid to enable children to learn to read and share books, hearing, attention, listening and looking. Using books to enable these stones to be placed as solid blocks should be our priority.  
Make sharing your stories an event, gather and wrap the children in the experience. Make it fun or tense, quiet or loud depending on the atmosphere of the story. Language begins in our heads; we must listen and hear words before we can use them in a meaningful way. 

Amazing benefits of reading

Did you know that on average, children spend only 49 minutes with books per day compared with 2 hours 22 minutes in front of a TV or computer?
If we want our children to have the amazing benefits we need to read to them and surround them by books, rhymes, stories and encourage and inspire their love of escaping to faraway fantasy lands and worlds they can’t imagine yet. 
Einstein once said, “if you want your children to be brilliant tell them fairy tales, if you want them to be more brilliant, tell them more fairy tales.” 

Celebrate our differences!

 Your children’s needs, backgrounds, perspectives, and interests should be reflected in the books available. How are their communities, families, cultures, and heritages shared in the books you have?  
 We should all be aware that we have a responsibility to celebrate difference, it’s a vital step we need to take towards building inclusive learning environments. 
 Also think about using books as catalysts for conversations, for action and engagement. Learning connects strongly with communities and practice beyond the books we offer if we provide resources, objects, and artefacts to explode the context or bring the characters to life.

Source: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/566971/my-two-moms-and-me-by-michael-joosten-illustrated-by-izak-zenou/

A few ideas to share some books:

Create a cave or magical place that is just about sharing books. 
 
Gather catalysts, artefacts and characters that can be used by children to create and share different narratives. 
 Use the story to talk about subjects than are meaningful and open our eyes to the world in all its fabulousness. Imagine a whole team of people helping you, caring and being kind towards you. That’s in Humpty Dumpty draw on the emotional literacy of the stories you share. 
Champion and celebrate difference, the more our children see themselves represented in their stories, the more they will believe that they can be themselves and do all the things their heroes do (as well as seeing their friends alongside them)! Every child should feel seen and heard in our stories and books as well as in their experiences. 

Source: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/585658/hair-love-by-matthew-a-cherry-illustrated-by-vashti-harrison/

Source: https://jesslove.format.com/julian-is-a-mermaid

Source: https://www.henakhan.com/undermyhijab

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